Round Core, Hex Core & why should it matter?! - Strings Pt.1
Strings are a pivotal part of our interaction with an instrument. First & foremost they're what our fingers come in contact with, they're what our pick strikes & what our pickups, well, pick-up! Therefore it's very important to think about what set you choose for you & your guitar, as they can affect the playing feel feel & in many players ears, the tone significantly.
I've experimented quite a bit with various brands and types over the years. From the usual 'Off the Shelf' brands from my local guitar shops growing up like Ernie Ball, Rotosound or D'Addario for example. To importing brands myself like Pyramid or DR which were harder to get hold of (albeit much easier now with some large online retailers stocking them in more recent years). Strings have always been one of the main details I would continue to experiment with to try and refine the feel of my guitar & longevity too.
Diagram sourced from Google - musicbytodd.com/
Most brands offer what's known as hex core strings, these are an industry standard really due to it's ease of mass production & lower manufacturing costs. I actually first became aware of the more traditionally made round core strings around 2010 and used them on my non-locking tuner guitars a great deal!
So, what's the difference? It's quite a simple one really & refers to the 'core' of the wound string. You can see this in the diagram above. Hex core has a hex shaped central wire, it has 6 edges and as the wire is wound around the core, it crimps the wire on those edges. That makes them easier to produce & there's certainly nothing wrong with that. But the downsides of hex is that It can gather grime, dust & dirt in the gaps between the core and the wind, meaning the strings can go dead much quicker. It's a reason why 'coated' strings exist, to help the dirt stop building up in those gaps by having a coating barrier.
Round core is as it says on the tin, the central core is completely round in construction meaning the wind evenly wraps around it. It's harder to make, usually meaning to get the best result they need to be wound by hand. As there are no crimps in the wind, there are no gaps for dirt to rest meaning they can often last longer than an un-coated hex core, retaining a consistent tone right across their lifespan. No need for coating! That's handy for some players, but these coated sets are definitely 'Marmite' as some players are against coated strings, some love them. As with anything, it's all personal taste. There are many factors to this, such as acidity of sweat when playing, particularly oily skin etc, we're all human after all huh. But these Round Core/hex core/coated details might be one thing to bare in mind if you've experimented with a few different types already.
One thing to note though, is if you use locking tuners on your guitars, round core may not be the best option for you. Locking tuners tend not to grip onto the core of a round core string as well as it does with a locking tuner.
I'm going to talk more about The gts.co strings in detail in future blog posts, but I hope this one today helps those that perhaps haven't come across round core strings prior and what makes them different to hex core strings.